A South Asian figure skating panel series wants to promote diversity

TKhan

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South Asian Skater: Ami ParekhRichard Fleischman

South Asians continue to be underrepresented in the professional sports world in the many countries they reside in and their participation rates lag behind their counterparts. This is also the case for figure skating. South Asian figure skaters have always shared the same passion for the sport as the others around them; however, there have been times South Asians have felt invisible or not fully understood, in the pursuit of the sport. Some have felt this more than others and at different stages of their lives. Consequently, South Asian figure skaters encourage participation in sports due to their underrepresentation in almost all sports. They want to see other South Asians also enjoying the medical and psychological benefits of "excellence in exercise" but of course, in a supportive environment.

While South Asians come from or live in a variety of countries, they come from a variety of backgrounds, religions, philosophical thoughts, and speak many languages. Of those who migrated, degree of integration with the dominant culture also largely varies. While the few South Asians who figure skate are mainly of Indian-origin, the sport could be more enriched if South Asians from other countries of origin also participated. With ice skating available to them, South Asians can increasingly express themselves through yet another channel, another medium, while also contributing their cultural flavor to the sport. The key to improving is building awareness among South Asian children - that they too can figure skate with access to proper facilities, equipment, and training. It is also important for South Asian parents to wholeheartedly believe that the world of figure skating should not corrupt or harm their children in any kind of way. Children should know that role models, who grew up like them, do exist. And with these aims in mind, Parekh organized this panel series, so that amateur and professional athletes can make themselves approachable and available to the younger generations, to provide mentorship.

Parekh has organized an interactive panel discussion for August 14th, August 19th, and August 28th, with talented, globally-based, South Asian national and international figure skaters, including several upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic hopefuls. Parekh is mostly known as the first Indian figure skater to represent India at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, the first figure skater to perform bharatanatyam on ice, recipient of the FIA 33rd India Day Parade Award of Excellence, and recipient of the 2021 American Medical Sports Society for Sports Medicine Community Advocacy Award.

Panelists include Olympic hopefuls Pooja Kalyan, Team U.S.A senior figure skater who broke records by being the only South Asian-American to place top ten at the U.S Figure Skating Senior Nationals in 2021 and who won several US Figure Skating Awards including prestigious national awards of academic and athletic achievement along with Tara Prasad, Indian Senior Figure Skating Champion since 2019.

This Zoom panel series will be conducted in English and translated to Hindi. All children are invited to meet these skaters by registering here for free: https://forms.gle/P3WXErtnQ6132qTv5

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I write about culture, politics, parenting, religion, and health. My work has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vox and Prism Reports among others.

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